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RFID Tribe talk

Mark Johnson, president of the industry group RFID Tribe, talks about its past, present, and future, and what’s in it for packagers.

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Johnson may be called the chief of the RFID Tribe ( as well as its founder. The RFID Tribe was formed two years ago on the principle that members collaborate and help each other in the emerging technology of RFID. That’s according to Johnson, whom I met by chance in March at the RFID World event (see His motivation for spearheading RFID Tribe? “I’m passionate about technology and technologists,” he responds.

The organization can be likened to packaging’s Institute of Packaging Professionals, only with an RFID focus. RFID Tribe began in 2004 with 20 members meeting over lunch to collaborate about RFID technology. That group became the first RFID Tribe chapter in the RFID hotbed of Dallas, TX. Members come from such companies as Coca-Cola, P&G, Schering-Plough, Tesco, Unilever, and Wal-Mart. Johnson’s responses to our questions follow.

What is the RFID Tribe and what does it do?

RFID Tribe is a global association for RFID professionals with local chapters. The group of industry end-users, vendors, and academics collaborates on RFID and sensor technology, standards, venture capital, products, solutions, industry trends, people and events. RFID Tribe’s members use group e-mail and electronic bulletin boards tied to special interest groups and to geographical chapters to collaborate with RFID experts around the world. They use chapter meetings to collaborate with members from their metro area.

How involved are consumer packaged goods companies?

Roughly 30% of RFID Tribe membership are end users of RFID technology and come from a broad base of industries including consumer packaged goods firms, retailers, healthcare, defense, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and others.

What specific benefits are there for CPG members?

RFID Tribe members interaction centers around interest groups in their industry and around chapters in metro areas. Members in those chapters and groups trade ideas, post articles of interest, ask questions, and collaborate with each other on RFID technology.

What’s ahead for the RFID Tribe?

RFID Tribe’s direction is up to the members. Some of our best ideas have come from members who say, “I wish RFID Tribe did this for its members.” RFID Tribe is currently working on education/learning initiatives with RFID education providers.

RFID Tribe will continue its rapid growth from its current 2ꯠ members in 60 countries to more than 30ꯠ members. As the local chapters grow, chapter leaders guide each chapter’s agenda and direction. RFID Tribe is growing rapidly and needs leaders for its local chapters.

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